I am indebted to the staff and faculty of St. Martha School. Daily they take care of the most important people in my life. They spend more time with our children than we do. I was able to go back to work knowingthey were in exceptional care socially, mentally & spiritually.
Cheryl Tobin ~ Former SMS Parent
July 13, 2020
Four months ago today changed our world as we knew it. On Friday, March 13, the children left SMS for what we thought would be two weeks. Well, you know the rest. All in all, we did well. It was not ideal, however, we never missed a beat. Monday began virtual learning and, as the weeks went on, the teachers (along with parents) worked together with some setbacks, tears, smiles, and talking each other off the ledge. Finally, June 12 and RELIEF! Relief, but in the back of our minds, still worry about September and what will happen.
The Office of Catholic Education set up a task force of principals, teachers, nurses, doctors, maintenance, and lawyers and came up with a plan to begin school in a brick and mortar building with virtual learning as needed. Cohorts, in our case, homerooms, will stay together and travel to and from lunch, recess, and specials with their homeroom teachers. Face shields have been purchased by SMS with Race for Education money and they will be worn when the children leave their homeroom. During homeroom, the students and homeroom teacher will NOT be required to wear a face shield. Children will remove their shields when they enter the special class or cafeteria, however, the special teacher will wear a face shield because she/he has been with other homerooms. Special teachers will use a spray disinfecting machine between classes, spraying desks, chairs, and materials. All teachers will disinfect their classrooms during the day and after school.
During lunch and recess, the children will be assigned a seat and table (with their homeroom). Children will NOT be permitted to go to their sibling or a friend in another classroom. Outside recess will work ONLY if the homeroom stays together!
Mr. Kevin, with the help of our cleaning company, will clean common areas during the day and in the evening. Disinfecting machines are on order for all classrooms in lieu of UV lights, automatic towel dispensers will replace older outdated dispensers, bottle refill stations will replace water fountains, hand sanitizing dispensers will be at entrances and on each floor, hand sanitizer will be in every room, thermometers are on order and will be used every day.
You are responsible for taking your child’s temperature before sending them to school. A checklist will be sent for you to follow. Do NOT give them Motrin or Tylenol if they have a fever simply so they can attend school. I understand you must go to work, but you must also make arrangements to have someone on hand to watch your child if they are sick. We will call you to come ASAP if your child has a fever and is symptomatic. Update your emergency contacts as needed. We will try the main number and then go to the next number. If a student or teacher in a homeroom is infected with Covid, the homeroom and teacher will stay home and virtual learning will begin until they are safe to return to school. Using this practice, we will not have to close the entire school. Yes, we will track siblings.
We have a Pandemic Planning Team (PPT): Mr. Kevin, Mrs. McCrossan, Ms. Sassa and I met today and are making an individual school plan based on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Plan-Catholic Schools Onward (CSO). I urge you to read the policies and procedures on the AoP Catholic Schools website, https://aopcatholicschools.org/catholic-schools-onward-cso-2/. Our PPT will personalize the plan to fit our school.
There is much work to do in the upcoming weeks and the PPT team, faculty, and staff will be ready for your child come September. I wrote about some of the concerns parents have asked about. The team and I will keep you informed and will be ready to answer your questions or concerns. We may not have the answer right away, but someone will get back to you with an answer ASAP. We will continually announce handwashing procedures with signage throughout the school and review the new rules. With your reinforcement and cooperation, this can be accomplished and will be the new norm.
This is one time I am happy SMS is a small school and our classrooms are no more than 23 (25 is the ideal number). Therefore, social distancing is not a major issue. I will continue to update you each Monday with further information such as drop off, busing, face masks to and from school, and keep you informed of our PPT meetings. If there are questions you may have, please email me and I will answer in the Monday Update email unless it is of a personal nature and an individual response is needed: [email protected]
God bless you and your families and thank you for choosing SMS. We are a small school with a big heart and I am SMS Proud! I am a phone call, text, or email away.
Mrs. Karen A. Donofry